Have you noticed that nearly all the cannabis chocolates available from the edibles industry range from waxy and cloying, to mediocre and tolerable?
Trust me, I’m a scientist—I’ve carried out careful sensory evaluation on a significant sample size of the chocolates available from the edibles market. The results have been…disappointing. But I’m still hopeful. Why?
Because it means there’s a huge opportunity for an edibles maker (like you) to corner the market niche of high-quality cannabis chocolate.
Until that happens though, we’re all consigned to gulping down “chocolates” that taste like muddy, bittersweet medicine. Gross.
At least each dose is small enough to take down in a bite or two…
But what if I told you that cannabis chocolate can be as fantastically flavored and gourmet as anything you’d find in a San Francisco Whole Foods or from a multi-generation French chocolate maker?
It just takes a little food science and finesse.
How to use cannabis extracts in chocolates
I’m glad you asked. Whether THC or CBD, distillate or otherwise—high quality cannabis extract should be your starting point for making chocolate edibles.
Most cannabis chocolate producers add their extract almost as an afterthought or sidecar ingredient. It’s just there to pack a punch and deliver a dose. So they simply try (often unsuccessfully) to mask or balance the bitterness. Then they boast some fantastic milligram total on the packaging, and shove mediocre products down our greedy throats.
But don’t our greedy tongues deserve to be in on the experience too? Shouldn’t the chocolates we eat TASTE as good as they feel?
If you agree, here’s the start of an answer: Think of your cannabis extract as a flavor ingredient. Not just a magic or medicinal one. (See how it works for my PB&J gummies)
When it comes to choosing the best cannabis extract for chocolate edibles, consider the overall flavor and aroma profile you’re going for. We’re blessed by science to live in a time when certified botanists are cultivating cannabis. So your options are numerous.
Depending on what sort of chocolate bar you’re going for, you can easily find cannabis strains that are citrusy or piney, fruity or floral, funky or mild.
What’s the best cannabis extract for edibles?
First and foremost, invest in a high-quality extract that doesn’t come with any skunky or fuel-like aftertastes, among an array of other unpleasant flavors.
Depending on your state, there are likely a number of cannabis extract producers representing a range of qualities from cheap and dirty tasting, to complex and deliciously terpene-rich, to clean and virtually aromaless.
I was at a cannabis convention recently, talking to someone about THC extraction.
He told me that after the first extraction of the flower, there’s still some THC left in the byproduct—which you can extract again and use that derivative for edibles.
I politely excused myself to go retch in the restroom.
Don’t we deserve better?
You’d use extra virgin olive oil for cooking a meal, right? So why would you use anything other than high-quality first-run extracts of beautiful fresh flower for edible chocolates?
We don’t need to wring out every last drop of THC for use in edibles. Will no one think of the palates…? Save that junk for the vapers who only care about a cheap fix.
How to make high-quality cannabis chocolate
Websites like Leafly catalogue thousands of strains available in this age of legal cannabis (thank science!) describing their effects along with terpene-derived scent and flavor profiles that’ll make your mouth water.
Let’s say you want a cannabis chocolate that delivers a relaxing body high without too much mental chatter. Browse Leafly or check with cannabis extract producers near you, to find strains that match those effects.
Then let’s say there are two cannabis strains available as extracts in your state.
One has a terpene profile that says, “bright and warm, grapefruity, notes of honeysuckle”— and the other is described as “skunky, earthy, dank.”
All other things being equal, which one sounds better for chocolate? If you’re anything like me, “skunky” is about the last thing you want in your chocolate experience.
So let’s say you go with the citrusy floral strain, keeping the recipe simple with a sprinkle of rosemary seasalt on top. That might be nice. It might even be freaking fantastic.
Or you could infuse your recipe with tequila to pair with the grapefruity cannabis extract, and call it a “Paloma” chocolate bar.
The thing to keep in mind is, any time you change one ingredient, you change the interplay of everything else.
Be thoughtful about every ingredient
Making top quality chocolate always revolves around three elements: sweet, bitter, and sour.
Cocoa is naturally bitter, and so is any cannabinoid because of the molecular structure. To compensate for the bitterness of cannabis extract, many edibles makers will simply drop the cocoa percentage. But that brings forward the sweetness, and blots out the complexity.
There are many ways to mask, balance, and/or incorporate bitterness in cannabis edibles, but remember—every adjustment you make in a chocolate recipe has a ripple effect.
Choosing ingredients that enhance existing flavors while naturally balancing them can go a long way toward creating top-quality cannabis chocolate to enchant the market.
You don’t need to go bean-to-bar for gourmet cannabis chocolate
As an edibles producer, you’re better off as a chocolatier rather than a chocolate maker. Going all the way back to the bean doesn’t add anything to your goals and process except extra steps and stress.
Chocolate maker is someone who makes chocolate from scratch, using different percentages of cacao and other ingredients.
Chocolatier sources chocolate from a chocolate maker, and adds ingredients and flavors to create their own bar or confection.
You can easily source high-quality chocolate that will pair well with the flavor and aroma profile of whichever cannabis extract(s) you choose. Then you can add whatever other flavors will make your CBD or THC chocolate bars complete, unique, and gourmet.
Don’t try to cram maximum THC into every bite
Not only does that let your customer enjoy a few more bites of your delicious chocolate per dose, but decreasing the density of cannabis extract also automatically decreases the bitterness you have to deal with.
If you think about it, this can work on a marketing level too. Who sells more bars? The brand with 10 doses per bar, or the one with 4 that are also super delicious and mouthwatering? And cost much less, too!
How does food science lead to better cannabis chocolate?
When it comes to formulating the best cannabis chocolate for the market, there are a lot of elements to consider.
- Source of hemp or cannabis extract
- Format of hemp or cannabis extract (e.g. nanoemulsions are far more bitter)
- CBD or THC dosage
- Cocoa percentage
- Sweet, sour, bitter balance
- Overall flavor bouquet
As a food scientist with a PhD in flavor chemistry, when it comes to cannabis chocolate formulation, one of my most important and unique tools is formal experimental-design. I have the software, lab experience, and deep knowledge of taste and flavor on a molecular level that you can’t get anywhere else.
And by the way, before becoming a cannabis food science consultant, I was for many years an award-winning chocolate maker and confectioner. In case that seems relevant.
Whereas any worthwhile chocolate consultant could help you make a decent chocolate; food science can help you pinpoint the best possible version, based on multi-variable experiment setup, multi-objective optimization, and formal sensory analysis (including consumer testing, if you have the budget and time).
So what it comes down to fundamentally is this: What are you trying to achieve?
Are you trying to make excellent-quality cannabis chocolate that loyal customers will buy over and over again because it’s so delicious?
Or are you just trying to get people high?
If you answered Yes to the first one, reach out and let’s formulate some gourmet cannabis chocolate at a quality level that still rarely exists in the edibles market.
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